In his 1941 essay titled The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius, George Orwell asked,
Are there really such things as nations? Are we not 46 six million individuals, all different?
He went on to comment that despite class and economic disparity, “there is something distinctive and recognizable in English civilization.” This could be seen in not only England, but in other nations, with their uniqueness and individual worldviews. Patriotism in one form or another was running high in those days. Orwell wrote,
One cannot see the modern world as it is unless one recognizes the overwhelming strength of patriotism, national loyalty … as a positive force, there is nothing to set beside it. Christianity and international Socialism are as weak as straw in comparison with it. Hitler and Mussolini rose to power in their own countries very largely because they could grasp this fact and their opponents could not.
Orwell’s essay, in spite of its occasional ramblings, is in some sense a meditation on how a nation can overcome its differences and work toward a common good. The power to overcome evil – like Adolf Hitler, for example – and the strength that comes from people who can agree about what is good for them collectively come from this concept we call patriotism.
Read the rest of my article at The Philos Project